From today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Under the buzz of hair clippers, men sitting in Much Better barbershop didn’t ponder New Year’s Eve plans or talk shop on the Bucks or the Packers.
The usual banter found at this north side business centered on a weightier topic — taxation without representation for more than 63,000 Wisconsin residents who cannot vote because of felony disenfranchisement laws.
Ventae Parrow Bey, 44, is one of them.
He was released from the Wisconsin prison system in 2001, but has spent the last 13 years “on paper.”
In Wisconsin, individuals who are “on paper” — on parole, probation or extended supervision — lose their right to vote until they complete their post-incarceration sentence.
There’s now an effort underway to restore those rights for them.
“When you think about this, you are taxing me, but you are telling me I can’t vote,” Bey said.
He expects to be off paper this year and plans to register to vote.
“It’s like an oxymoron…. How is it fair to tax someone that you are not going to allow to have a representation?” he asked. “If I can’t have representation, then you need to stop taxing me. You need to leave my money alone.”
Ramiah Whiteside was released in 2019, but will not be off paper until 2042 before he is eligible to vote. He’s now a prison inreach coordinator with EXPO, an advocacy organization supporting system-involved individuals.
Whiteside said voting would allow him to have a connection with the government or hold elected officials accountable.
Read the complete story here.